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September 25, 2001 - September 25, 2001

Quake-hit schools yet to resume normal function Tuesday, September 25, 2001

BY RADHA SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Last Friday, administrative officer N Qureishi of the Municipal School Board was slapped with a show-cause notice asking him to explain why his residence phone provided by the office should not be disconnected and disciplinary action initiated against him.

On the face of it, the problem may look like a routine administrative hiccup. Dig deeper and one finds that the same is a fall-out of the general apathy that has been persistently coming in the way of putting education in the quake-damaged municipal schools back on track.

It is almost eight months since the quake shook the very foundation of the municipal schools infrastructure, damaging over 260 buildings. Apparently, eight months is not enough for the apathetic AMC to put its act together and get the schools started!

School board chairman Ganpat Parmar himself confesses that not even 50% of the educational activities have resumed.

"It is a matter of concern... In a large majority of damaged schools the repair work is still incomplete. Where repairing has been undertaken issues like wiring, sanitation and drinking water supply have been left untouched, holding up resumption of education activity in schools," he stated in a recent letter to the municipal commissioner.

So what is coming in the way of speedy repair work? The reason behind the show-cause notice to Qureishi could offer an interesting explanation.

The notice was prompted by the fact that whenever deputy municipal commissioner (administration) Vinay Vyasa tried to get in touch with the officer to co-ordinate the progress of the repair work of damaged school buildings before or after office hours, he could not be contacted.

"The administrative officer cannot be contacted on the residence phone provided by the office. Kindly make necessary arrangements so that the officer can be contacted," Vyasa wrote to Parmar.

"Why has the office provided a telephone at his residence if the officer in-charge is never available on the number and does not even return the calls? Moreover, we also have received complaints that the officer behaved rudely with a group of NGOs who wanted to inquire about the status of repair work," informed Parmar.

One should not be surprised then if AMC keeps extending deadline for completion of the repair work when there is such apparent lack of co-ordination among senior officers.

"The administration had promised that repairs will be complete by Sept 15-30, but I don't think it will be possible when there has not been significant progress on work to rebuild 20 buildings that were pulled down, not to mention scores of other buildings that still lie in a state of disrepair," says Parmar.

In the meantime, enrolment rate has reportedly come down to half from almost 40,000 last year to an estimated all time low of 15,000 students obtaining admissions to Class I. A large number of students have taken school leaving certificates and for another large majority who cannot afford private schooling, voluntary agencies are shouting over the rooftops as to how the children's basic right to education is being infringed upon by the AMC.

"The AMC better hasten up the repairs before the poor students lose an entire year," urged Suresh Ramanuj, a child rights activist in the city.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Quake-hit schools yet to resume normal function Tuesday, September 25, 2001

BY RADHA SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Last Friday, administrative officer N Qureishi of the Municipal School Board was slapped with a show-cause notice asking him to explain why his residence phone provided by the office should not be disconnected and disciplinary action initiated against him.

On the face of it, the problem may look like a routine administrative hiccup. Dig deeper and one finds that the same is a fall-out of the general apathy that has been persistently coming in the way of putting education in the quake-damaged municipal schools back on track.

It is almost eight months since the quake shook the very foundation of the municipal schools infrastructure, damaging over 260 buildings. Apparently, eight months is not enough for the apathetic AMC to put its act together and get the schools started!

School board chairman Ganpat Parmar himself confesses that not even 50% of the educational activities have resumed.

"It is a matter of concern... In a large majority of damaged schools the repair work is still incomplete. Where repairing has been undertaken issues like wiring, sanitation and drinking water supply have been left untouched, holding up resumption of education activity in schools," he stated in a recent letter to the municipal commissioner.

So what is coming in the way of speedy repair work? The reason behind the show-cause notice to Qureishi could offer an interesting explanation.

The notice was prompted by the fact that whenever deputy municipal commissioner (administration) Vinay Vyasa tried to get in touch with the officer to co-ordinate the progress of the repair work of damaged school buildings before or after office hours, he could not be contacted.

"The administrative officer cannot be contacted on the residence phone provided by the office. Kindly make necessary arrangements so that the officer can be contacted," Vyasa wrote to Parmar.

"Why has the office provided a telephone at his residence if the officer in-charge is never available on the number and does not even return the calls? Moreover, we also have received complaints that the officer behaved rudely with a group of NGOs who wanted to inquire about the status of repair work," informed Parmar.

One should not be surprised then if AMC keeps extending deadline for completion of the repair work when there is such apparent lack of co-ordination among senior officers.

"The administration had promised that repairs will be complete by Sept 15-30, but I don't think it will be possible when there has not been significant progress on work to rebuild 20 buildings that were pulled down, not to mention scores of other buildings that still lie in a state of disrepair," says Parmar.

In the meantime, enrolment rate has reportedly come down to half from almost 40,000 last year to an estimated all time low of 15,000 students obtaining admissions to Class I. A large number of students have taken school leaving certificates and for another large majority who cannot afford private schooling, voluntary agencies are shouting over the rooftops as to how the children's basic right to education is being infringed upon by the AMC.

"The AMC better hasten up the repairs before the poor students lose an entire year," urged Suresh Ramanuj, a child rights activist in the city.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Body of woman found in river Tuesday, September 25, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: Police on Monday fished out the body of a 20-year-old woman, identified as Darshana, from Tapi river. The woman had gone missing from her parents' in the Moti Varachha area on Saturday.

According to the police, Darshana had left for a Ganesh temple on Saturday morning, and did not return.

Police have registered a case of accidental death. Further investigations are on.
New garbage collection system for city.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Over 600 students pay to get admission Tuesday, September 25, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Approximately 600 candidates paid fees for admission to the first-year commerce at the MSU faculty of commerce here on Saturday. Following a Gujarat High Court rejection of plea of stay on payments seats scheme, MSU has announced that those wishing to seek admission may do so by September 25 (Tuesday), the last day for paying fees.

"Moments after the work on accepting fees began, a few student leaders entered the General Education Centre to protest against Rs 6,100 being charged as fees. They wanted the fees to be reduced," said dean faculty of commerce Prof Mohite.

Following which syndicate members Nilesh Shukla and Pragnesh Shah and the MSU Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof V D Pathak held talks with them. Prof Mohite said student leaders were assured that the review committee that has been formed to look into the reduction of fee levels would decide the matter on September 25. The decision would be put before the syndicate on September 29.

"We have changed the fee receipt timings for Monday and Tuesday. The fees would be accepted between 11 am to 2 pm on these days. Those who are given admission in the general category at the commerce main building and the girls college should pay their fees by Tuesday which is the last day for all students," he informed.

According to him, there was an overwhelming rush of students here on Saturday and as many as 650-700 students paid fees. He said, "There were seven teams deputed at the ground floor of the GEC to handle the rush of students, and the entire process finished off peacefully without any untoward incident barring the minor intrusion by students."

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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A colossus in the world of economics Tuesday, September 25, 2001

BY RAJA BOSE, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
WHEN Charan Singh, then finance minister in the Janata government asked the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, I G Patel, whether he had any idea of agriculture, pat came his reply _ "Patels are the Jats of Gujarat. I know as much as you do."

It's this spirit that saw a young boy, still not 20, traversing the seas to reach England as the World War II raged and German submarines criss-crossed the Atlantic. The same spirit saw him associate with P C Mahalanobis to draft the country's second Five Year Plan, the most controversial of all the Plans, get actively involved during the tumultuous days of the Bangladesh War and see the process of the nationalisation of banks.

Immersed in Indian classical music, working with educational institutions and being on the governing bodies of institutions like the Indira Gandhi Institute of Economic Research and the IIM, Ahmedabad, after his retirement, this former governor of RBI and former director of the London School of Economics feels it has been a "life well spent".

He grew up during the days of the Baroda state and remembers the greenery, with canopies of banyan trees lining the streets, the days of the uprising in the country and the speeches at Amdawadi Pole by Praja Mandal activists who not only fought for Independence but also wanted the princely state to be a part of Independent India.

And, the war was on when he got an opportunity to study at the Kings College of the Cambridge University. It was a 48-day journey by sea that he still remembers. "Nobody went to England those days. When I got a call, a warship turned into a passenger ship was travelling from China via Bombay. We travelled along the African coast, as a part of a convoy of destroyers and warships. Suddenly we got to know that German submarines have been spotted in the Mediterranean and we had to put on our life jackets and be ready to get into life boats," he recalls.

It was his first journey outside Baroda. And, it set the stage for the rest of his journey in life that has never been less exciting as the one to England.

England fascinated him despite the hardships, having to cope with the cold, the war time crunch. "There were very few Indians at Cambridge. Nobody came to England during the war. I still remember a Jewish friend from Germany who felt Nazism was an aberration and my tutor Gerard Shove, a great man who people said could have been the Prime Minister but chose to teach. Later, I instituted a scholarship in his name at Kings College to express my gratitude," says Patel.

He had been to England on a scholarship from the Baroda state in 1944. When he came back after five years, the Baroda state was no more. But, he was soon in the thick of things _ being asked by Hansaben Patel to head the economics department of Baroda College, where he once studied.

"Those were exciting times. Hansaben was stitching together a young team at a time when the college was to see a transition to a university. Chiman Patel, who later became the Gujarat chief minister was my student and had called a strike. It was later found that he was against the principal of the college and was willing to call off the stir if I became the principal. So, I was prevailed upon to take the seat when I was less than 25," he recalls.

More interesting time awaited young I G Patel when he joined the International Monetary Fund in Washington and came back to join the finance ministry in 1954. "I worked under so many finance ministers till 1972. Though I had a short stint at the UNDP for five years, I returned again to be the governor of the RBI in 1977," says Patel.

"I have worked under prime ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi and Charan Singh. It has been a varied experience," he recalls.

"Nehru had a way of keeping in touch. He knew that a young man, who has had a good career at Cambridge, had joined the government. Within two months of joining, I was invited to his house for dinner on August 15. You could not help but be fond of the man," he says.

"Indira Gandhi was so different. While Nehru was spontaneous, Gandhi was meticulous and would even know when to smile and when not to. But she was very competent. The success of the Bangladesh war got to her head and hubris followed. She was very sensitive and suspicious of people around her and got more and more isolated and lonely. That was probably her undoing," feels Patel, who being the then economic secretary during the Bangladesh war, has worked with her closely in those crucial times.

"Delhi in the 1960s and early 1970s was exciting. There were no problems of hierarchy and ego. Even Mahalanobis accepted my ideas on the second Five Year Plan that I discussed with him as the liaison man between him and the Planning Commission, as he knew me from Cambridge. There was free flow of ideas and the economists' fraternity was happy," recalls Patel.

He rues that the camaraderie is now missing. "The mid-1970s were the watershed years. From then, the trend has been outward. There are bright Indian economists all over the world but they do not come back to the country. Economists like Amartya Sen came back but left again. The atmosphere here is not conducive anymore. In the government, it is more manipulative than creative. Even the universities do not have good teachers at the postgraduate level," he says.

The man who, as a child, chose to ride an elephant rather than camels and the toy train when the palace celebrated Maharaja Sayajirao's birthday, rode the world of economics like a colossus. "The country has faced many a crisis. I have seen those days. But, I have come out with my head held high," he says, as he enjoys his retired life.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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